Calls him “whimsical” and “obstructionist” in his letter to Manmohan

In a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh written two months ago (July 8, 2011), Union Minister of State for Sports Ajay Maken called Mani Shankar Aiyar “obstructionist” and “whimsical” and said the former Sports Minister “did everything to hinder” the Common Wealth Games project, leading to “delays and huge cost escalations.”

The letter was in response to a query from the Prime Minister's Office following Dr. Singh's June 29 meeting with a group of newspaper editors. At the meeting, a reference was reportedly made to Mr. Aiyar's letters to Dr. Singh objecting to cost overruns in the execution of the CWG. (Mr. Maken's letter was released by the PMO as part of a reply to an RTI application filed by Subhash Chandra Agrawal).

Mr. Maken argued in his letter that most of the corruption charges relating to the Games arose “essentially out of the inordinate delays in the execution of various infrastructure projects” which in turn were a result of Mr. Aiyar's “obstructionist ways.”

However, “Mr. Aiyar did an extremely dichotomous , contradictory and self-indicting job of dealing with them [infrastructural delays],” Mr. Maken said. “Even as Shri Aiyar kept presenting a rosy picture to the PM about the progress in infrastructure preparedness, he actually did everything to hinder and obstruct work which eventually led to delays and huge cost escalations.”

Mr. Maken also accused Mr. Aiyar of being “malicious” in betraying confidential details of his letters to the Prime Minister. (In a letter to Dr. Singh, dated October 25, 2007, Mr. Aiyar said he was “increasingly alarmed at the profligacy” of the Chairman of the OC…” and the “present projections of expenditure on the Commonwealth Games and CWG-related expenditure have topped Rs. 20,000 crore”). Mr. Aiyar's letters, Mr. Maken said, “were widely quoted [in the media] and used to scuttle our bid for Asian Games 2014…”

Mr. Maken said, as Minister in charge of Sports, Mr. Aiyar was under obligation to implement the National Sports Policy with its focus on “Excellence in Sports.” Hosting international sporting events was an “integral part of the policy” and indeed the Asian Games of 1951 and 1982, and the CWG of 2010 were an “exercise in the professed policy direction.” Therefore “any opposition to this was nothing but pure rhetoric.”

The Sports Minister also contested Mr. Aiyar on his claim that the CWG money could have been spent to broad-base sports in India. He said in March 2007, the Union Cabinet approved the Panchayat Yuva Khel Krida Abhiyan (PYKKA), with a mission to promote “sporting infrastructure at the panchayat, block and district levels at a cost of Rs. 5000 crore.” Mr. Maken said Mr. Aiyar took credit for PYKKA, adding, “It is only ironical that a complaining Mr. Aiyar never deemed it fit to thank the PM or Hon'ble Congress President for PYKKA, which was declared a flagship programme of the UPA Government.”

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